PLAYBILL.COM'S THEATRE WEEK IN REVIEW, April 25-May 2: Tony Nominations Kick Off Awards Season

Tonys, Tonys, Tonys.That was the story this week, and the only story.

Jefferson Mays in A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder
Jefferson Mays in A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder (Photo by Joan Marcus)

Jonathan Groff and Lucy Liu announced the nominations for the 68th Annual Tony Awards April 29 in the Diamond Horseshoe at the Paramount Hotel.

The happiest people on Broadway over the following minutes were the producers of the new musical A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder, which earned 10 nominations, the most of any production of the season. A Gentleman's Guide got largely positive reviews when it opened last fall, but it hasn't exactly burned up the box office since, owing to its lack of a known composing team or a marquee name among its cast. (We all love and admire Jefferson Mays here in the theatre, but outside of Times Square, his name has so little traction that the average Joe might mistake his distinctive moniker for that of a 19th-century southern Senator.)

The revival of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, which stars Neil Patrick Harris (who will likely give Mays a run for his money in the Best Actor in a Musical category), also fared well, nabbing eight nominations. After Midnight, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, The Glass Menagerie and Twelfth Night earned seven nominations apiece. The once-ballyhooed Bullets Over Broadway won only six nominations, and Best Musical was not one of them.

Acting-wise, three of the four actors in The Glass Menagerie were nominated. Mark Rylance was nominated twice, as leading actor in a play for Richard III and supporting actor in the play for Twelfth Night. Cabaret was ignored except for supporting players Linda Emond and Danny Burstein, who both received nominations. (In case anyone's counting, this is Burstein's third consecutive Tony nomination and his fifth in eight years. He has yet to win.) Kelli O'Hara, of The Bridges of Madison County, took in her fifth nomination in ten years. She, too, has yet to win.

Audra McDonald was, of course, nominated for her performance in Lady Day at Emerson's Bar & Grill. McDonald has opened in nine Broadway productions, and has been nominated for eight of them. (She missed with Henry IV in 2003. Slacker.) Speaking of overachievers, Sutton Foster has opened in eight productions on Broadway and has been nominated for six of them, including the current Violet. Composer Jason Robert Brown was nominated twice, for his score of The Bridges of Madison County and his orchestrations of the same show. Director Kenny Leon wasn't nominated a decade ago when he staged A Raisin in the Sun on Broadway, but he was nominated for his current work on the same play. (Try, try again.)

Estelle Parsons
Photo by Joan Marcus

And here's an irony. The oft-nominated costumer designer Jane Greenwood doesn't have to worry about winning a Tony this year, since she'll be given a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre. Nonetheless, she was nominated anyway, for her work in Act One.

***

As always, the Tony nominations announcement was not a happy time for some shows.

The Velocity of Autumn, starring Estelle Parsons and Stephen Spinella, will end its Broadway run May 4, producers announced April 29. Eric Coble's new family drama was not a critical favorite, and the production received only one nomination: Parsons for Best Actress in a Play.

The Bridges of Madison County fared better, earning four nominations including Best Original Score ( Jason Robert Brown), Best Actress ( Kelli O'Hara), Best Lighting Design ( Donald Holder) and Best Orchestrations (Brown). But it wasn't enough to keep the struggling show alive. It will end its Broadway run May 18, producers announced May 1. ***

Remember — oh, about a decade ago — when the prospect of a show starring the team of Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick could send ticketbuyers into a tizzy?

It seems like a distant time, but producers are going to gamble on how much theatregoers remember the magic that was The Producers. The two actors were announced this week as the stars of an updated version of Terrence McNally's It's Only a Play. Jack O'Brien will direct the production, which will open in September at a Broadway theatre to be announced. McNally's husband, Tom Kirdahy, is the lead producer of the comedy, which will feature Broderick as a nervous playwright (good casting, that) and Lane as his backbiting friend (ditto). Manhattan Theatre Club first presented It's Only a Play in 1986 with a cast led by James Coco.

Broderick and Lane ruled Broadway back in 2001 as the synergistic leads of The Producers. They returned in a 2005 revival of Neil Simon's The Odd Couple, but the glitter seemed to have dimmed by then. The production was generally regarded as a disappointment, though it did make pots of money.